27 June 2013


Here's a recent post from Katarina Eller at the Brot und Rosen Community in Hamburg, Germany: 
I would probably write more blogs if I thought my life was interesting enough, but actually my days mostly consist of cleaning, chopping vegetables, and food shopping. Our day begins with devotions in the chapel, with a simple prayer-song-Bible-reading-silence-song-prayer model.... Like a sandwich, or an Oreo cookie. Almost all of the songs come from the Taize movement. (You know you live at Brot & Rosen when most of the songs stuck in your head are in Latin.) Sometime after breakfast and light cleaning or email-checking, I might start with lunch prep. Leftovers from the night before are warmed up, and some type of salad is made. More often than not, it is a green salad. My favorite part of lunch prep is making the salad dressing (I never want to buy premade salad dressing ever again). And the worst is washing the salad. It is usually donated to us from an organic food store and can be very earth-filled and/or sometimes tiny-insect-infested. It can be the case that there is no green salad. But not to worry, other variations are possible! Carrot salad with grated carrots and apples, and oranges with oil and lemon juice for example; or red beet salad with chopped onions, vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, and caraway seeds. Or Chicory salad with apples, oranges, bananas and a yogurt, lemon, curry dressing.
I usually don’t cook dinner. Dinner is very intimidating. Often around 15 people show up, and the children don’t eat anything that might contain nutrition for healthy development. So I leave dinner to the professionals (unless of course they’re not around), and chop vegetables for them. We may be unofficially part of what is called the Slow Food Movement (correct me if I’m wrong). Since I’ve been here, I have made/or experienced the making of: salad dressing, bread, jelly, orange juice, tomato sauce, pralines, mixed drinks, pizza, vegan chocolate, vegan cheese, mashed potatoes, African chili salsa, guacamole, fufu European style, applesauce etc. I’m not gonna lie, one of my initial thoughts during my very first week at B & R was: uh-oh. Yeah, sometimes I still feel like that, but it’s all good, that’s why I live in community, so other people can take over when they see me start on a crazy culinary maneuver. 
It is my job to buy everything that is not donated by the food bank, organic food store, or ordered from said store. So, a large portion of my shopping includes cooking oil, lemons, noodles, tomato sauce, and toilet paper. Sometimes I have to make more than one trip, even though I use a rolling shopping-hamper-thingy. (I don’t know what we call them, but they are all over Germany.) And sometimes the cashier is like, “Oh it’s you again!” and I think “ Yeah, because if you only had a wheely cart and two little chicken-bone arms you’d be back again too.” Then there’s the whole discussion of what we should buy fair-trade, regional, and organic. And, if organic tomato sauce from who knows where is worth the price, or even really organic, and whether it’s better to buy organic sugar or the normal sugar that says on the package that it’s made in northern Germany from sugar beets but is probably not organic etc. As usual with Brot& Rosen, as soon as I ask a question as to what I should buy, I get eight different answers. So as usual with Brot& Rosen, I just do whatever I want to. 
That’s Christian Anarchy for you!

21 June 2013

"merci, plus s'il vous plaît"

This is yesterday's comment from BVSer Kirsten Stopher who works at the Association-Centre Abbé Pierre Emmaüs in Esteville, France:

Today I gathered some of the heberge to help me clean the chalet because it is being rented this weekend. One of the men who is physically handicapped and walks with a cane asked me if there were things he could come and help us do. I honestly could not think of anything that would be easy for him to do but I told him he could come along with us if he wanted.

When we got into the chalet I listed off the things I needed to have done and told everyone to choose what they wanted and get to it. To my surprise, each and every person found something they could do. When we took a break to come back to the house to eat lunch I overheard the man who walks with the cane proudly telling my coworkers the things he did to help us in the chalet. He didn't do much but he did what he could and he was included in the group. That is the spirit of Emmaüs :)